GEORGE TOWN, Jan 23 – More than 100,000 Hindus, locals and foreign tourists thronged the road from Penang Street to the Sri Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga during the Thaipusam procession here, Saturday. The procession, bearing the statue of Lord Murugan on a silver chariot, started moving from the Veedu Temple at 6am accompanied by music from traditional Idnian musical instruments ‘Mridangam’ and ‘Natheswaran’.
Checks by Bernama along Jalan Magazine and Jalan Datuk Keramat found the ceremony taking place in a merry atmosphere. There was also the ubiquitious presence of policemen in the area. Hundreds of thousands of coconuts were piled up along the 10-kilometre route and were smashed by Hindu devotees when the chariot stopped in front of ‘Thanir Panthal’ or temporary tents built along the route.
The tents were used to provide free food and drinks to visitors who followed the ceremony. In addition, Hindus were seen carrying ‘archenai’ or trays which were filled with coconuts, money, fruits and flowers to be handed to priests who followed the procession to conduct prayer rituals. A Hindu man who took part in the procession, A. Karthigesu, 25, said he came from Kelantan yesterday to take part in the Thaipusam celebration in Penang because it was merrier.
He said normally, each year, his family would go to Batu Caves, Selangor to celebrate Thaipusam but they came here this year because his elder brother vowed to carry the kavadi here. Meanwhile, Penang deputy police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan, when contacted by Bernama, said as of 6pm today, the Thaipusam celebration went smoothly.
Tomorrow, Hindus will carry numerous types of kavadi and climb the 512 steps to reach Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple which is sited on a hill in Jalan Kebun Bunga here to fulfill their vows and get the blessings of Lord Murugan. On the third day, the statue of Lord Murugan will be paraded back to Veedu Temple in Penang Street from the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple.